Whilst we are normally purists when it comes to single estate dark chocolate, we make an exception for this Menakao dark bar. This is an example of chocolate with inclusions done right.
The chocolate is full of the typical pronounced berry notes of Madagascan cacao. The added cocoa nibs (the purest form of chocolate, pieces of dried and fermented cacao beans) give a powerful crunch, bursting with fruit and tannins, combining deep flavour with added texture. The hint of sea salt serves a double purpose. It opens the palate, helping you to get the full flavour of the berries and red fruits. At the same time, the salt cuts through some of the nibs’ intensity, revealing their roasted fruit and raisin notes while reducing the bitterness and prolonging the finish.
It’s the natural purity of the salt that makes this combination so complementary, imparting a delicate flavour, perfect for really bringing out the cacao’s fruitiness without overpowering the chocolate. It’s a purity derived from the simplicity of its production process; Fleur de sel forms naturally on the surface of clay basins as sea water evaporates, and is then hand-picked with a rake.
This bar showcases the very best of Madagascan produce. Beans are sourced from the Menakao plantation located in the celebrated cacao growing region of Sambirano, north west of Madagascar, with the fleur de sel, or sea salt, picked from the salt marshes of Morondava in South West Madagascar.
This bar doesn’t just taste good, it does good. Madagascan chocolate maker Menakao proudly crafts its chocolate on the island, using only local ingredients. Unfortunately, this is rare even for craft chocolate – it’s estimated that less than 5% of the world’s chocolate is produced in the same country the cocoa is grown. By making the chocolate in Madagascar in addition to growing the cacao on the island, Menakao generate about 4-5 times the benefit of Fair Trade for the local Madagascan economy.
In honour of the men and women of Madagascar of all ethnicities who are at the heart of Menakao chocolate, Menakao decided that the bars should proudly bear the image “not [of] the face of Madagascar, but [of] Madagascan faces.” The beautiful image on the wrapping of this bar is of a Tanala woman. The Tanala people, (Tanala meaning “forest-dwellers”), originate in the heavily forested south east of the island, between the highlands of the Antemoro and the coast. The bounty of the forest provide the Tanala with all they need to live, from hunting to the medicinal benefits of limitless plant species, from wild honey to coffee and rice cultivation.
A fine example of a single estate inclusion bar, we think everyone should try it.